The picturesque landscapes of Northern Michigan are on display for people from all over the world to see the next two weeks at ArtPrize in downtown Grand Rapids. The annual event spans four miles and includes over 100 participating venues. By the end of the event, viewers will help choose the winning artwork, and the artist will be awarded $125,000.
Laura Songer, owner of Wintergreen Hill Gallery in Marquette, is showing her work at ArtPrize for the fifth time.
“I’m originally from Iron Mountain, but now reside in Marquette. I do I have a degree from Michigan Tech and plant ecology and biology, and I manage over 700 acres of forest land for recreation, wildlife and timber. So I spend a lot of time in the woods, and obviously that really influences what I paint,” Songer said.
Songer has dabbled in art her entire life. She worked professionally as a medical illustrator. After years of precise artistry, Songer experimented with different medias and settled on heavy body acrylics. Her style is impressionism.
“I wanted to do something really loose and fun. Impressionism was my answer. ... It’s a lot of fun,” Songer said.
Her work on display at ArtPrize is called “Saturday at the Hill of Blue Jay” and depicts a skier on sunny winter day (see below).
“I was inspired by all the weekends we used to spend at Marquette mountain, the local ski hill when with my children - they all went through MMR T racing. And we spent every Saturday in the winter and sometimes weekdays with practice and everything. And just that feeling of you know, in January, (when) you get that amazingly crisp, clear, beautiful, sunny day. And you’re out there skiing and the kids are having fun. And I wanted to show that feeling in my painting,” Songer said.
The 20-foot-by-24-foot piece is being shown on the second floor of The Bob restaurant in downtown Grand Rapids.
Hannah Richards, a 21 year-old Traverse City native, is showing a piece called Nature’s Kaleidoscope.
“I recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor of fine arts. I have always been interested in art; for as long as I can remember I have been doing projects,” Richards said.
This is her first year participating in the two-week art showcase.
“I have never been a part of ArtPrize before, but I have visited. Ever since I visited I wanted to be a part of it,” Richards said.
Aside from showing her own work, Richards is excited to see other artists’ pieces throughout downtown Grand Rapids.
“I signed up as an artist in June with a rough paragraph about the art piece I was planning to make. I then had to get connected with a venue. For me, it only took two to three days for a venue to reach out to me. The venue was One Bourbon, and I accepted. This was surprising that it was so quick, but my piece fit into the theme they were trying to stick with - which was nature-inspired pieces. We then signed contracts and it was time for me to work on and finish my art,” Richards said.
“My piece is called ‘Nature’s Kaleidoscope’ - it is made out of fibers, yarn and forest-found branches. The size of this piece is the largest I have ever made at 60 inches x 60 inches. It is very much inspired by the colors and textures that are found in and around nature. Many of my art pieces are inspired by nature, so this piece goes along with many of the other pieces that I have made in the past,” Richards said.
Ludington photographers Todd and Brad Reed are presenting a movie for a new children’s book, “They Call Me Eagle Eyes: A Picture Book For All Ages.” The movie highlighting wildlife in Northern Michigan will loop continually inside the main theater at the first floor of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.
Art Prize is meant to be enjoyed on foot over multiple days, according to organizers. Viewers can visit a series of venues while stopping along the way to recharge at parks, restaurants and the ArtPrize Oasis.
For a curated experience, take advantage of the Pantone Pathways. The Pathways begin and end at the ArtPrize Clubhouse, located at 2 Fulton West on the corner of Fulton Street and Division Avenue. Find an interactive map on the voting webapp via your mobile phone. You can also view venue listings and Pantone Pathways on an interactive map here, or even print out your own to take with you.
“I would recommend to anyone to go and visit ArtPrize in Grand Rapids. It really is a beautiful and unique experience. There are so many different kinds of artists and art pieces, so I think everyone who visits can find something that they really enjoy and connect to,” Richards said.
Anyone 13 years or older and present at the event can vote for the winners in ArtPrize. The first vote must be cast within the ArtPrize District via the ArtPrize mobile webapp or at the dedicated on-site voting location.
There are two rounds of voting: In round one, voters choose the top 25 public vote finalists. In round two, voters choose the winners from the public vote finalists. The finalist with the most votes will win first place and a $125,000 grand prize. The second place winner will be awarded $50,000, and the third place winner will be awarded $25,000.
ArtPrize is a 501c3 nonprofit. Fundraising year round to cover the entire operating budget, including the $400,000 awarded in prizes and the $200,000 distributed in grants to artists, curators and educators. The largest source of contributions is corporate giving, followed by foundations, individuals and government grants.